Generalist Practice Blog Post 6: Building a Leadership Plaza

Part 1: Please share what 2 changes/additions you made to your website (note if they were peer suggested or your own ideas) and explain your reasoning behind it.

Shelby suggested that I add a pictures, add and About Me section, and delete my test “This is a Test” blog. I did all these things. I added one picture of myself at the end of my About me section. I also added an archive to my sidebar as well as a calendar. I think these changes add personality to my blog. I think they also make my blog a little more user friendly and fun for people to navigate. I’m having fun with this and look forward to making some more changes as the semester goes on.

I also added a Tags and a Categories section to increase ease of navigation.


Part 2: Using citations and key points from the Morse Chapter 7 (“Growing New Leaders”) text, explain 3 important elements of building a “leadership plaza.”

According to the text, a leadership plaza is “open, inviting opportunities to put the whole community to work for the community. (Morse, 2014, pp. 166)”

I think the first significant piece of building a leadership plaza is in the leaders that are elected. A good example is from Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, SC and his commitments to his community (Morse, 2014, pp. 156-157)

  • Open government for everyone, so everyone feels they can participate.
  • Historic preservation, so we can learn from the past and keep those things protected.
  • Strategic, long-term planning and follow-through for the future to keep the community constantly revitalized.

Building a leadership plaza also includes protection of the children in that community. In Harlem in NYC, Geoffrey Canada developed the Harlem Children’s Zone to provide a safety net that would offer support for the kids that live within a 100 block range in Harlem. They offered social, educational, and health support for these kids (Morse, 2014, pp. 158).

Finally, good leaders working within that leadership plaza are looking to the future. Programs like Kansas Health Foundation (Morse, 2014, pp. 162) and Horizons (Morse, 2014, pp. 163) are looking long-term when solving issues like poverty and health. They understand that “wicked” problems can’t be solved in six months. Most can’t even be solved within a year. They create long-term projections and are willing to stick to them and see them through, even during the times when it appears that nothing is happening. It’s hard when we live in a society that is obsessed with instant gratification.

It’s good to read about how these communities have set themselves up for a good future, but it is still a bit frustrating to think of how long one must wait to see the fruits of their labor. But that’s what good leaders do.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use

       strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco:


Policy Blog Post 5: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Explain the role the voluntary and private sector have in social welfare.  Describe at least 2 benefits and 2 concerns relating to the voluntary sector and/or the private sector in general.

“You cannot feed the hungry on statistics.”-David Lloyd George

I’m coming from a lively discussion in HBSE2, and I’m kind of reeling from it. We watched the documentary A Place at the Table which highlights some of the voluntary sector with regards to the increase in hunger across our country and closing the gap of hunger. I started the discussion by saying that I wanted to reduce my lip service and start actually helping out. I want to begin meeting needs instead of just talking about it. There was far more on the minds of my cohorts.

The conversation devolved into a bit of mud slinging. I think others would disagree with me, but I felt extremely uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to say that people who make more money than “the rest of us” are somehow morally inferior?? Really? It’s morally inferior to make $250k a year. Really? How can someone make that kind of generalization without knowing the heart of the person they are talking about? I don’t know what that person is doing with their funds. I don’t know what kind of situation they came from. I don’t know if they are donating to charities on a regular basis. I don’t know if they have medical bills, other family issues, etc. I won’t make those kinds of comments. Even more important to the kind of work I want to do is this: I won’t make those comments because, eventually, I might ask for donations from these people, and the last thing I want to do is piss someone off because they got wind of a comment I made in a class I took in grad school about how I think that I’m morally superior because I care about social justice and make a pittance compared to them. But I digress…except this isn’t a digression!! This dovetails right into the blog post.

The voluntary sector relies on charity! Many of the grants that are applied for are funded through the trust of a rich dead person. Faith-based services are funded through the donations given by their congregants. Ideally, a person who is making a lot of money will be giving a lot to their church or charity of choice. Until the government closes the gap and gets on board with taking care of the people of this country, we need those voluntary and private sector donors to meet the needs of hurting people.

Another poignant thing that came up in conversation was this: are these charities enabling people to stay unemployed and in the system? Maybe yes. But the system is fatally flawed, is it not? The poverty line is so low and the threshold for receiving services is so low that, in order to qualify and meet the needs of yourself and your family, some folks are opting to only work part time. Full-time work is honorable, but what do you do when all your assistance is quickly cut? There is no opportunity for transition for these people who are struggling to get on their feet and then stay there.

This is where the idea of privatization might come in. Many people think that private sector charities and philanthropy are far more efficient than public welfare systems. The private sector can meet the needs of people without all the red tape of bureaucracy. However, private entities function without any government regulation (not a horrible thing), and therefore are more apt to discriminate against certain people or ethnic groups (a horrible thing).

So what’s the fix? I’m detail oriented, not big-picture. Micro. I want to go out and, one at a time, help the people that I come across. I’m not willing to get into a shouting match with my cohorts about how the system is broken but not do a damn thing about it. What are we going to do, people, besides yell at each other??

If you need me, I’ll be at Food and Shelter.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 5: Preserving the Past in LoDo

Two-part Blog Post:

Part 1: On your blog, name 3 changes you recommend for your peers’ website.

I paired with Shelby Reeves and looked at her website. I would add or change the following:

Add an “About” section. A prospective employer would want more information about her from this section.

I would change the color scheme. The pink is a little sugary.

Add a picture or two for some more visual interest.

I like that her blogs are archived by month. I need to figure out how to do that with mine.

Part 2: Name a town from Morse Chapter 6 “Preserving the Past” and write about the problem faced by the town and two ways they successfully preserved their past. Cite aspects of importance from supportive text/articles.

I LOVE that Denver is included in this chapter! I lived for almost six years in Broomfield, Colorado, which is part of Denver metro and have spent many a fun night in Lower Downtown (LoDo for short).

As with most of the country, Denver was hit hard during the Recession in the 80s. Unemployment was high, and businesses were vacating Denver at an alarming rate. Office buildings were at a 31% vacancy rate. Mayor Pena was looking for a way to revitalize the town and bring activity back to the city and preserve the history. During this time, historic buildings were being torn down and the land used for parking lots. A group of eight preservationists met at breakfast and were concerned that this was happening and fought to preserve the history of Denver.

This group proposed building a civic center in LoDo in exchange for stricter controls of what could be demolished to protect the historic buildings. When the group was challenged as being too small to take on such a large task, they joined forces with the Mayor and became a 28-person task force to take on the demolition companies and preserve the historic buildings.

It took two decades to complete, but now LoDo is thriving. The Chamber of Commerce has since moved to LoDo, there is a baseball team, and there are clubs, restaurants, shops, and high-end apartments throughout the area. Breckenridge Brewery is also there, which is a personal favorite.

Denver boasts that it was one of the first cities to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. I don’t know about this, but I was living there at the time. They seemed to recover quickly, and I wonder if it is because they employed some of the same techniques that they used in the 80s. They also legalized marijuana during this time, but that is another conversation for another day.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Social Policy Blog Post 4: “Who’s poor?”

Discuss at least 2 ways poverty and unemployment are measured as well as how these measures affect pictures of poverty or unemployment.  [For example, would the poverty threshold or poverty guidelines measure higher?  How might this affect legislation regarding poverty.]

*Clarification – for 2 ways to measure unemployment, how does the federal government measure unemployment?  Who might this leave out that it should include?

Let’s start this off by saying I am poor. I Uber for income and sometimes make money singing, but I do not have a steady job. I am a student. I have ungodly amounts of debt. I am poor.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what the government thinks.

According to the text, the two ways of measuring poverty are poverty threshold and poverty guideline. The poverty threshold is more commonly known as the poverty line. Threshold tends to be higher than guideline. Threshold is used strictly for statistical purposes, while guideline is used to determine whether or not someone is eligible for federal programs like TANF and SNAP.

In my personal experience, neither one of these things takes into account debt-to-income ratio. I was divorced and co-parenting my son with minimal child support and no alimony. I was working full time and making money at a rate above the poverty line, so I didn’t qualify for any federal aid. If I’d dropped a day at work, I would have qualified! These levels of poverty exclude the working poor. Those who are trying to pay off debt, working full time, and make too much money to qualify for the things they need.

Unemployment is measureable. Anyone who doesn’t have a job is unemployed. Underemployment is not as measurable. It can mean those who are working below their skill set or education level. It can also mean those who want to work more hours than they are working.

Regarding employment, in the US a loss of a job might trigger short-term poverty. Then there is the idea of structural unemployment. Structural unemployment occurs when there are changes in the way things are done, like technological advancements in certain labor and factory jobs. These advancements create unemployment for some because the workers’ skill sets are limited.

I’ve been underemployed almost my entire working life. I’ve been college educated since 2001 and obtained my first masters degree in 2006. I’ve worked entry-level positions in non-profits. I tried to get promoted but didn’t have the “right” education. (I have a master of music.) This was during those years when I was struggling as a single parent. I understand that feeling of not being able to get ahead or even catch up because it feels like the system is set up to defeat you.


Generalist Practice 2 Blog Post 4: Community Studies

Referencing the Hardcastle article, please explain the 4 types of community studies (field work study, community power structure study, community analysis study, and problems and services study), using 2-3 sentences to describe each one.

I’m going to try to tie each one of these studies to the city of Norman in some way.

Field Work Study: This is a holistic-type study that works over time, is informal, and works through interviews and observations of a particular community. Ideally, a researcher would be able to get the working history of a community through these observations and interviews. There is also face-to-face work with members of the community called “informants.” Someone coming into Norman to do one of these studies would be in contact with families who have been here, say, 40 years or longer, founders of local businesses (Republic Bank, for instance), leaders of churches like McFarland, and members of the Norman Public School board. Their collective stories would give an overview of life in Norman.

Community Power Structure Study: This type of study uses interviews, surveys, and library investigation studies to determine who has the power and exerts influence in a community. They are by definition designed to determine where the power structure lies in a community. A list of names of who in a community has power usually arises out of this type of study. In Norman, I believe the power structure would indicate strong leadership coming from the mayor, the city council, local business owners and operators, pastors of large churches, and leadership from the University (like David Boren).

Community Analysis Study: This type of study seems to be highly quantitative. This involves analysis based on who the leaders are in a community and where they see the community heading in the future. There is an analysis of factual documents that help researchers and community leaders support and respond to the needs of a the community in a certain way. In Norman, this would involve a look at historical documents, budget documents provided by the city council and the NPS board, as well as other pertinent quantitative information.

Problems and Services Study: This type of study looks into the specific problems in a community and what services are available in that community that can address the problem. Doing these types of studies helps show researchers and community leaders where the big needs are in a community and would help inform a search for services to meet those needs. If something needs to be brought in to meet a need, this is where they would start. Norman’s east side could be studied regarding problems and services. My practicum is at Kennedy, and a problems and services study might show that there are a lot of families at or below the poverty line. Fortunately, most of the social service outlets in Norman are on the east side and are more easily accessible to those with limited transportation and resources.



Social Policy Blog Post 3: What’s church got to do with it?

Trace the religious roots to social work and examine how social work and religion coalesce and/or diverge today. Make sure to point out at least 4 historical roots, 1 place of coalescing, and 1 divergent point in your analysis. 

I have been on the struggle bus this week. I had a car accident and a sick kid within 24 hours. Let’s see how this goes!

I am a preacher’s kid and was raised by an extremely conservative family. This topic is a tender spot for me. I grew up with all the Bible stories and platitudes talking about helping the poor, sick, widows, and orphans. I also grew up hearing about how “poor people are living off the government” and “they’re just lazy”. I know that not everyone who professes any kind of faith is like this, but it is a common theme. Anywhooo…

Historical connections

  1. Jewish protections for the powerless (gleaning, marriage contracts).
  2. Survival of ancient religious communities was dependent on communal living.
  3. The rise of voluntary social organizations connected to the church during the Second Great Awakening and the influence in moral and social reform.
  4. Settlement houses of the late 1800s that were based on an idea of Christian Socialism.
  5. I’m not sure why this won’t let me delete these numbers because I don’t need a number 5….in the Western world, we don’t value a sense of communal living like ancient communities did. We have an ‘every man for himself’ mentality. This is a divergence.
  6. Churches are still heavily involved with social welfare and volunteering. Food banks, bill payment programs, and international mission involvement are just a few of the ways the church reaches the less fortunate. This is a coalescence.
  7. This is all I got for today. I would like to adjust this at some point, but I’m out of time. Peace!!

Social Policy Blog Post 2, or “Civics: not just a fleet of Hondas.”

Your book identifies 4 stages in policy development:  formulation, legislation, implementation, & evaluation.  Describe each of these levels.  Also, using the Rocha, Poe, & Thomas (2010) article as well as your own ideas, identify 2 specific ways social workers or other concerned citizens could advocate at each of these levels.  You can use the same method twice, if you are specific as to how the activities would vary.

We are eighteen days in to a new administration, and I already feel like I can jam these four stages of policy development into one: EXECUTIVE ORDER. Implement, implement, implement. Who cares what the House, Senate, and Supreme Court think about things? And the general public? What are those?? I’m just guessing, but I don’t think our current President passed his high school civics class. Or even knows what civics is…’s not a model of Honda.

Clearly I was exhausted when I started writing this blog, but I’m more rested. My snark will be more intelligent…or I could shut up and answer the question.

Formulation. Policy is formed these days largely through staffers and think tanks. According to this book, legislators are more concerned with getting reelected than with actually doing anything beneficial. They used to tap into resources like universities to inform their processes. Now think tanks have taken that place. So, basically, while our reps are formulating their reelection campaigns, their staffers are working with think tanks (and hopefully listening to what their districts want!) to write policies that reflect the desires of the reps. On this level, I could (1) meet my legislators and let them know about issues that effect the communities with whom I work and what their needs are. I could also (2) talk with leaders in my community and ask about what they’d like to see change, happen, come into the area, etc and empower them to advocate for themselves.

Legislation. OK. I figured it out. These writers were mistreated staffers. In other news (like, being on task), legislators do their legislating through committees and subcommittees based on what they’re interested in. Representatives from special interest groups as well as lobbyists make their wishes known through public hearings in front of these committees. If a representative takes a bunch of money from a particular donor, chances are he/she is going to try to write and pass legislation that benefits the interested party. This is the definition of cronyism (my two cents, not the book). I honestly don’t know what to do at this level because this is the level that frustrates me. If you don’t have money, you have no say. This was made apparent to me when I saw the names of several major corporations (mostly oil) stamped around the rotunda of the state capitol. Oklahoma government. Sponsored by Haliburton. I might try to (1) influence a political action committee to get my views and the views of my community heard and (2) again, meet with my legislators. The OK Legislative Primer is a great resource for knowing what’s on the floor and what to really push for or against.

Implementation. This section was a bit tricky and something I’d not thought of. Just because something passes doesn’t mean it will be implemented. If the money and interest aren’t there to run the program or enact the policy, then the government will just, essentially, bleed it dry, reallocating the funds and exacerbating the problem. Something similar that happened on the ballot last year were questions 780 and 781, decriminalizing class 1 and 2 misdemeanors and using funds saved in the prison system to provide rehabilitation to the prisoners. The public voted for these things, and the OK government retracted them…..what???? I don’t get that at all. It’s as if we’re being told that we don’t know what we’re talking about. But, just because something was voted for doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen. I think we (1) need to be prepared to step in and meet the need, like a staffing need, should this arise. Defunding might be less likely if a grassroots organization or nonprofit were ready to take on the task of running the program, whatever that program might be. In the case of 780 and 781, we gotta (2) meet with those reps! Call those reps! Letters! Why are we SO PROUD of ourselves for having so many nonviolent offenders in prison? When my dog pees on the carpet, I don’t crate her for TEN YEARS.

Evaluation. This a good practice in theory. These policies and programs should be evaluated for effectiveness and to reduce instances of bad practices. Even good things can go bad if put in the wrong hands. Oftentimes, however, these checks and balances are put in place, not to find areas of improvement, but to figure out what the government can pull the plug on. I hate that because everything, no matter how useful, will go through phases where its usefulness is less than stellar. This causes a lot of reps to try to have these valuable welfare programs defunded. I say we (1) ask for reforms instead of revocations for things we know to be valuable to the vulnerable populations we serve and (2) strive for truth in reporting when documenting the use of these programs. Having accurate statistics helps find strengths and weaknesses. Further, coming up with a swift plan of action for course correction should a threat of defunding occur is vital to the success of a program.

One thing I learned at the day at the capitol is this: the government is NOT a savior. In many cases, it will be a hindrance to the things we want to accomplish. We have to work together, person to person, to develop sincere relationships that will serve us in the long run. These relationships can be with our state and local legislators as well as community leaders, church leaders, nonprofit directors, etc. Now, more than ever, we CANNOT rely on the government to look out for the people we serve. That’s our job.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 3: NASW Day at the Capitol

For those who attended the Capitol experience: Write about 5 specific things you learned (or were reinforced) from the NASW Day at the Legislature and how you will use them to impact your work on a macro level in your career as a social worker.

Today was an eye-opening day at the Oklahoma state capitol. I started the morning with a tour, followed by check-in and talks by the NASW president Frannie Pryor and lobbyist Kara Joy McKee. After lunch was a panel discussion with Oklahoma legislators from both sides of the political aisle. They all appeared moderate and eager to work with the NASW and other helping professions. There was a brief discussion of their stances on certain things and a quick rundown of some bills that are coming up during this session that might be of importance to social workers. Then we were sent off to meet our reps and talk with them about issues that were pertinent to us and our profession.

I learned a lot today. There were things I learned that I would have been happier not knowing.

  1. My state senator, Rob Standridge, supports taking public education funds and filtering it to private and homeschools. He even talked with some homeschool parents about the loopholes he knows about and ways to get that money into their hands. I’m not anti-private and homeschool. I went to private school for three years, and I was homeschooled for a year and a half. My best education, however, came from public schools. Taking money from public school funds and filtering it into the private sector cheats our children and our teachers out of funds they so desperately need. How can the governor complain about our public school systems when she is allowing this to happen on her watch?? In my macro-practice, the way I would combat this is through lobbying for public education.
  2. The NASW has put out a document to go with the Trump presidential transition called Advancing the American Agenda. We had a brief reading of this document that covered some highlights, but I clearly need to read it in its entirety. Reading this document would give me clarity on where my association stands on the new presidency and how to support my clients as they try to make sense of the things that are happening to them. It has been made clear that many of the social programs that benefit the children with whom I work are at risk of being cut. Even if there is little I can do about those cuts, at least I’ll know where the NASW stands and can use that and the Code of Ethics to support my practice.
  3. I learned that not everyone in the State House and Senate hates each other and hates democrats. The panel was made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, and they were all civil and supportive of one another. I found this heartening. I think it’s a good way to demonstrate civility to the citizens of the state. I can tell groups in my practice that our representatives are civil and supportive of each other and of the work we’re doing. It might help community leaders feel more comfortable approaching them on issues that are important.
  4. I learned that I need to read the 2017 OK Legislative Primer if I’m going to have a prayer of being informed! I’ve not yet read it, and I didn’t even know what to ask my representative (who I did not get to meet with because he was in another meeting). It reminded me of the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Staying informed on policies that effect the populations with whom I work is imperative in a macro setting.
  5. I learned about the importance of the handwritten letter. I’d read about this in an NASW-Texas article on lobbying and grassroots efforts. Admittedly, I dismissed it as something that no one ever has time for. And maybe that’s right. And that might be why those hand written letters are so special when they pass across the desk of a senator or state rep. It means that someone took the time to write down, pen and paper, their needs and concerns for themselves, their families, and their communities. If I need to strongly advocate for my community but can’t schedule an appointment to meet with my representatives, there is nothing quite as special as a handwritten letter. I’ll start using them more often.